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State (Delhi Administration) Vs. G.P. Nayyar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1974CriLJ1363
AppellantState (Delhi Administration)
RespondentG.P. Nayyar
Cases ReferredJalan Trading Co. (P.) Ltd. v. Mill Mazdoor Sabha.
Excerpt:
- - this rule was, however, changed by the interpretation act of 1889, section 38 .with every respect to the great judges who administered the common law in england (like tindal, c. ..it would be more consonant with reason and justice to say that the law existed and was good at the time when it was passed but that since the date of its repeal it has no longer any effect whatsoever. while the legislature has power to make retrospective legislation, even when a fundamental right like the one protected by article 31 (1) of the constitution is involved (west ramnad electric distribution co. the state 1960crilj131 ,though not exactly with the meaning which shri garg would like to attach to it. ..the charge (under section 5 (1) (c)) having failed, there was no other charge which could be.....v.s. deshpande, j.1. olive rona titled his book 'law as fact' to emphasise that law existed in the consciousness of the people and their law abidingness and that it is not merely dependent on legislative fiat. on the other hand, the omnipotence of parliament is stressed by de lolme by saying that by legislation it can do anything except perhaps to make a woman a man and a man a woman. while law cannot change a fact in the physical world, it can do so in the world of law by a legal fiction. the legal fiction we are concerned here is the effect of the repeal of a statute. chief justice tindal in kay v. goodwin (1830) 130 er 403 : 6 bing. 576, trenchantly stated the effect of repeal as follows:i take the effect of repealing a statute to be, to obliterate it as completely from the records of.....
Judgment:

V.S. Deshpande, J.

1. Olive Rona titled his book 'Law as Fact' to emphasise that law existed in the consciousness of the people and their law abidingness and that it is not merely dependent on legislative fiat. On the other hand, the omnipotence of Parliament is stressed by De Lolme by saying that by legislation it can do anything except perhaps to make a woman a man and a man a woman. While law cannot change a fact in the physical world, it can do so in the world of law by a legal fiction. The legal fiction we are concerned here is the effect of the repeal of a statute. Chief Justice Tindal in Kay v. Goodwin (1830) 130 ER 403 : 6 Bing. 576, trenchantly stated the effect of repeal as follows:

I take the effect of repealing a statute to be, to obliterate it as completely from the records of Parliament as if it had never been passed, and it must be considered as a law that never existed except for the purpose of those actions which were commenced, prosecuted and concluded whilst it was an existing law.

2. The question before us is whether the repeal of a statute can obliterate the existence of the statute in the past as a fact or only as a legal fiction. It arises as follows: The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 created the new offence of criminal misconduct of a public servant in Section 5 (1) which was as follows:

5. (1) A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct in the discharge of his duty--

(a) if he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person, any gratification (other than legal remuneration) as a motive or reward such as is mentioned in Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, or

(b) if he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain for himself or for any other person, any valuable thing without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to be inadequate, from any person whom he knows to have been, or to be, or to be likely to be concerned in any proceeding or business transacted or about to be transacted by him, or having any connection with the official functions of himself or of any public servant to whom he is subordinate, or from any person whom he knows to be interested in or related to the person so concerned, or

(c) if he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do, or

(d) if he, by corrupt or illegal means or by otherwise abusing his position as public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person anv valuable thing or pecuniary advantage.

3. Realizing the weakness of the victim against the power-wielding civil servant and the difficulty of proving the actual act of misconduct of the public servant, the Legislature enacted Sub-Section (3) of Section 5 Which was as follows:

In any trial of an offence punishable under Sub-Section (2), the fact that the accused person or any other person on his behalf is in possession, for which the accused person cannot satisfactorily account for, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income may be proved and on such proof, the Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that the accused person is guilty of 'criminal misconduct' in the discharge of his official duty and his conviction thereforee shall not be invalid by reason only that it is based solely on such presumption.

The effect was that under Section 5, the offence of criminal misconduct was defined in Sub-Section (1), made punishable by Sub-Section (2) while Sub-Section (3) could be invoked as a rule of evidence to prove the offence. It was somewhat anomalous that the prosecution and the charge for an offence punishable under Section 5 (2) had to consist of specific allegations of a definite misconduct committed at a certain time etc., in view of the definition of the offence under Sub-Section (1) while the proof of such an offence could consist entirely of the possession of disproportionate assets in view of Sub-Section (3) and the conviction could be obtained even if there was no evidence at all of the specific ingredients of any of the acts defined in Clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Sub-Section (1). Though in law the conviction would be of criminal misconduct as defined in Clauses (a), (b), (c) or (d) in substance, it would be a conviction for possession of disproportionate assets within the meaning of Sub-Section (3). To bring the law in accord with reality, Section 6 of the Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1964. inter alia, added Clause (e) after Clause (d) in Sub-Section (1) of Section 5 and deleted Sub-Section (3) of Section 5. Thereafter, the prosecution and charge could itself from the very inception be under Clause (e) of Sub-Section (1) of Section 5. Either a person could then be prosecuted and charged for specific instances under the first four clauses of Sub-Section (1) of Section 5, or he could be prosecuted and charged merely for the possession of disproportionate assets under the fifth clause of Sub-Section (1) of Section 5. This change came into effect on 18th December, 1964.

4. The question of law before us is as to the effect of the repeal of Section 5 (3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 by Act No. 40 of 1964, namely, whether Section 5 (3) of the unamended Act ceased to exist even as a fact or whether it ceased to be operative only by a legal fiction.

5. The accused respondent G. P. Nayyar was charged firstly under Section 120-B. Indian Penal Code for entering into a criminal conspiracy with one Siraj-ud-Din and one Rehman to accept from them illegal gratification in the discharge of his official duties and secondly with the specific offences of accepting Rs. 6000 on 22nd July 1959 and Rs. 4000 on 27th July 1959 from Siraj-ud-Din and Rehman being offences punishable under Section 161, Indian Penal Code and Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The charges were framed on 26th December, 1963 The judgment of the Special Judge was delivered on 19th January, 1967. The charges for offences punishable under Section 120-B and Section 161, Indian Penal Code were not proved. The Special Judge, however, held that the assets of G. P. Nayyar from 1st July, 1955 to 30th April, 1961 exceeded his income by Rs. 33, 588.34 and were not merely in excess of but disproportionate to the known sources of his income. The specific instances of payment of the alleged two sums as bribes to G. P. Nayyar were not proved. The finding of his being in possession of disproportionate assets also could no1 secure his conviction under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (d) because such a finding could be used against G. P. Nayyar only with the help of Section 5 (3). As stated above, Section 5 (3) was repealed by Act No. 40 of 1964 with effect from 18th December. 1964. It was a rule of procedure in which no party could have a vested right. As the said rule did not exist on the date of the judgment, the learned Special Judge could not rely upon it. He, thereforee, acquitted G. P. Nayyar of the offence punishable under Section 5 (2) read_ with Section 5 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The appeal against the acquittal of G. P. Nayyar was 'filed by the Government on 11th April, 1967. During the pendency of the appeal, Parliament enacted the Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1967 being Act No. 16 of 1967 which came into force on 28th June, 1967. Section 2 of this Act 'which is the second crucial provision (in addition to Act No. 40 of 1964) on which the decision of this appeal turns. It is as follows:

2. Amendment of anti-corruption law in relation to certain pending trials.

(1) Notwithstanding--

(a) the substitution of new provisions for Sub-Section (3) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the 1947 Act) by Section 6 (2) (c) of the Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1964 (hereinafter referred to as the 1964 Act); and

(b) any judgment or order of any court, the said Sub-Section (3) as it stood immediately before the commencement of the 1964 Act, shall apply and shall be deemed always to have applied to and in relation to trials of offences punishable under Sub-Section (2) of Section 5 of the 1947 Act pending before any court immediately before such commencement as if no such new provisions had been substituted for the said Sub-Section (3).

(2) The accused person in any trial to and in relation to which Sub-Section (1) applies may, at the earliest opportunity available to him after the commencement of this Act, demand that the trial of the offence should proceed from the stage at which it was immediately before the commencement of the 1964 Act and on any such demand being made the court shall proceed with the trial from that stage.

(3) For the removal of doubt it is hereby provided that any court--

(i) before which an appeal or application for revision against any judgment, order or sentence passed or made in any trial to which Sub-Section (1) applies is pending immediately before the commencement of this Act, or

(ii) before which an appeal or application for revision against any judgment, order or sentence passed or made before the commencement of this Act in any such trial, is filed after such commencement, shall remand the case for trial in conformity with the provisions of this section.

6. As a result of this statutory change, Shri R. L. Mehta, learned Counsel for the appellant, submitted that the only reason why possession of disproportionate assets by Nayyar could not be used as evidence against him for conviction under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (d) was that Section 5 (3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 had been repealed on 18th December, 1964 and was not, thereforee, in force on the date of the judgment of the Special Judge. The Act No. 16 of 1967 has now enacted that Section 5 (3)

shall apply and shall be deemed always to have applied to and in relation to trials of offences punishable under Sub-Section (2) of Section 5 of the 1947 Act pending before any court immediately before such commencement as if no such new provisions had been substituted for the said Sub-Section (3).

The possession of disproportionate assets by Nayyar could, thereforee, be used as evidence against him under Section 5 (3) inasmuch as the trial of Nayyar was pending in this Court immediately before the commencement of Act No. 16 of 1967. Sub-Section (2) of Section 2 of Act No. 16 of 1967 says that the trial of the offence shall proceed from the stage at which it was on 18th December, 1964. Sub-Section (3) makes it clear that pendency of an appeal in this Court is equivalent to the pendency of the trial and the appellate court shall, thereforee, remand the case for trial to be resumed from the stage at which the case was before the Special Judge on 18th December, 1964.

7. Shri R. K. Garg for the accused respondent has, however, submitted that the provisions of Act No. 16 of 1967 insofar as they revived Section 5 (3) to be applied to the cases pending on 18th December, 1964 before the trial Court or before an appellate Court thereafter are unconstitutional for two main reasons. Firstly, they are contrary to Clause (1) of Article 20 of the Constitution and secondly, they are contrary to Article 14. Arguments were, thereforee, addressed mainly as to whether the impugned statute is contrary to Article 20 and/or Article 14 of the Constitution.

8. Article 20 (1) is as follows: 'No person' shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.

Shri Garg argued that the effect of repeal of Section 5 (3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 by Act No. 40 of 1964 was, in accordance with the observation of Tindal, C, J. quoted above, 'as if it had never been passed'. No doubt, Section 5 (3) existed between 1955 and 1961 when Nayyar was alleged to have accepted the two sums as bribes and when he was in possession of disproportionate assets; he could have been convicted prior to 18th December, 1964 'for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence' within the meaning of Article 20 (1). But after 18th December, 1964 it could not be said that Section 5 (3) was 'a law in force'. If a pre-Constitutional law merely becomes void under Article 13 (1) of the Constitution, according to the majority decision in Keshavan Madhava Menon v. State of Bombay : 1951CriLJ680 . the law does not become void ab initio but only becomes ineffectual with respect to the exercise of fundamental rights on and after the date of the commencement of the Constitution. Article 13 (1) of the Constitution has no retrospective effect and if, thereforee, an act was done before the commencement of the Constitution in contravention of a Law which was 'a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence' within the meaning of Article 20 (1), a prosecution for such an act which was commenced before the Constitution came into force can be proceeded with and an accused can be punishable for violation of that law even after the commencement of the Constitution. But, argued Shri Garg, the effect of the repeal of Section 5 (3) by Act No. 40 of 1964, as contrasted with the effect of Article 13 (1) of the Constitution, was retrospective. The words 'as if' used by Tindal, C. J., of course, recognise that such retrospective effect is a legal fiction. For, the repeal was made only on 18th December, 1964 and not at any prior date. But the legal fiction is that Section 5 (3) is to be deemed as if it never existed.

9. As pointed out by Mahajan, J. concurring with the majority in Keshavan Madhava Menon's case : 1951CriLJ680 of the report, the observation by Tindal, C. J., represented--

the rule of the English Common Law which was applied in cases of Statutes which were repealed and under this rule all pending actions and prosecutions could not be proceeded with after the repeal of the law under which they were started. This rule was, however, changed by the Interpretation Act of 1889, Section 38 ... With every respect to the great Judges who administered the Common Law in England (like Tindal, C. J.) during the earlier period of British history and in all humility I venture to say that the rule evolved by them qua repeal was of an artificial nature. The dictum of the learned Chief Justice that a repeal of a statute obliterates it completely from the records of Parliament as if it had never been passed is to my mind based on an extended meaning of that expression than its ordinary dictionary sense.... It would be more consonant with reason and justice to say that the law existed and was good at the time when it was passed but that since the date of its repeal it has no longer any effect whatsoever.... Because the rule of common law evolved by the English Judges was not in consonance with reason and justice, a legislative practice was evolved under which each repealing statute contained, a saving clause under which past transactions were not allowed to be affected by the repeal. Eventually the rule of common law was completely abrogated by the enactment of the Interpretation Act, 1889 in England. (In India the rule of common law was abrogated much earlier in the year 1868 when Section 6 of the General Clauses Act was enacted).... In my opinion, the rule contained in the General Clauses Act and in the English Interpretation Act is more in consonance with reason and justice and is also a rule of convenience and should be followed in this country, in preference to the rule evolved by the English Judges in the earlier part of English legal history.

10. Apart from the distinction between the law as a fact, e.g., the factual existence of Section 5 (3) prior to 18th December, 1964, and a legal fiction created by legislation by which a law is retrospectively deemed to be in force even though it was not in fact in force prior to the date of its enactment, there is a further distinction between the express creation of a legal fiction by retrospective legislation and its creation by a judicial observation or construction of a statute which merely repeals another statute but is not expressly retrospective, e.g.. the observation of Tindal, C. J., quoted above.

11. In an oft-quoted passage, Lord Asquith stated --

If you are bidden to treat an imaginary state of affairs as real, you must surely, unless prohibited from doing so, also imagine as real the consequences and incidents which, if the putative state of affairs had in fact existed, must inevitably have flowed from or accompanied it. One of these in this case is emancipation from the 1939 level of rents. The statute says that one must imagine a certain state of affairs. It does not say that, having done so, one must cause or permit one's imagination to boggle when it comes to the inevitable corollaries of that state of affairs.' (East End Dwellings Co. Ltd. v. Finsbury Borough Council (1951) 2 All ER 587).

This doctrine that 'full effect must be given to the statutory fiction and it should be carried to its logical conclusion' (State of Bombay v. Pandurang Vinayak : 1953CriLJ1049 : 1953CriLJ1049 and to that end 'it would be proper and even necessary to assume all those facts on which alone the fiction can operate' (Commr. of Income-tax v. Teja Singh : [1959]35ITR408(SC) ) applies only when a legal fiction is expressly created by the legislation. It is to be noted that the effect of the repeal of Section 5 (3) by Act No. 40 of 1964 on 18th December, 1964 did not create the legal fiction of retrospectivity expressly. It was only because Section 5 (3) was a rule of evidence and, thereforee, of procedure as distinguished from a rule of substantive law that the prosecution could not be said to have a vested right in the procedure. As the procedure which included a rule of evidence at the time of the judgment of the Special Judge did not include Section 5 (3) the Special Judge had to follow the procedure existing at that time and acquit the accused Nayyar against whom Section 5 (3) could not be used. Section 6 (c) of the General Clauses Act could have saved the liability incurred by the accused for conviction under Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 if Section 5 (2) or Section 5 (1) which were substantive provisions of law had been repealed. For, it could then be said that the liability had been incurred under those substantive provisions of law. It could not. however, be said that the liability had been incurred under Section 5 (3) inasmuch as Section 5 (3) was only a rule of evidence. No liability had, thereforee, been incurred there under and it could not be saved under Section 6 (c) of the General Clauses Act after the repeal, of Section 5 (3) on 18th December, 1964.

12. On the contrary, full effect has to be given to a legal fiction created by retrospective legislation in view of the judicial observations quoted above. To this rule, however, there is one grand exception. It is enacted by Clause (1) of Article 20 of the Constitution. While the Legislature has power to make retrospective legislation, even when a fundamental right like the one protected by Article 31 (1) of the Constitution is involved (West Ramnad Electric Distribution Co. Ltd, v. State of Madras : [1963]2SCR747 . Article 20 (1) of the Constitution, without generally prohibiting retrospective legislation of penal laws, enacts that 'no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence'. It is not, thereforee, the existence of a retrospective penal law or a trial there under but a conviction and the imposition of a greater penalty there under which is forbidden by Article 20 (1). Subject to this limitation, the general rule that full effect should be given to a legal fiction created by a retrospective legislation would apply to the construction of Section 2 of Act No. 16 of 1967.

13. Shri Garg, however, contends that by the repeal of Section 5 (3) on 18th December, 1964 it must be held that Section 5 (3) was not 'a law in force' within the meaning of Article 20 (11 at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence against G. P. Nayyar. He says that the expression 'a law in force' is constituted of two elements, namely,

(1) the factual existence of. the law, and

(2) the legal enforceability of it. According to him, even though in fact Section 5

(3) existed prior to 18th December, 1964, it had become unenforceable by virtue of its repeal by Act No. 40 of 1964 on 18th December, 1964. If. thereforee, Section 2 of Act No. 16 of 1967 purports to say that Section 5 (3) shall be regarded as a law which not only existed prior to 18th December, 1964 but also had legal force, then it conflicts with Article 20 (1) and is. thereforee, unconstitutional. We may at once say that if Section 5 (3) had not actually existed prior to 18th December 1964 and Act No. 16 of 1967 had enacted it for the first time and made it retrospective. then such a retrospective legal fiction even created by the Legislature would be of no avail. For, in view of Article 20 (1) a trial in respect of an act committed prior to 18th December 1964 could not be held by virtue of an offence created by such a legal fiction and no conviction for such an act could be obtained. The very object of Article 20 (1) is to ensure that a man should not be punished for an act which was not an offence when the act was committed. But we are unable to accept the contention of Shri Garg for several reasons.

14. Firstly, Shri Garg cannot succeed unless he shows that the protection of Article 20 (1) of the Constitution is available to the accused respondent in respect of Section 5 (3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, Shri Garg relies. on Calder v. Bull (1798) 1 Law Ed 648 in which the U.S. Supreme Court defined the scope of the guarantee contained in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution that no State shall 'pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law', etc. Justice Chase construed the expression 'ex post facto law' to include four different varieties of law, namely:

(1) A law which makes an act innocent when it was done later a criminal offence merely because of the subsequent law,

(2) A law that aggravates the nature of a crime to make it greater than it was when it was committed;

(3) A law which increases the quantum of punishment for a crime after the crime was done;

(4) A law that alters the legal rules of evidence and makes a lesser or different testimony than was required by the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence in order to convict the offender in accordance with the law so subsequently made.

In (1798) 1 Law Ed 648. the reference to the legal rules of evidence as being included in the concept of an ex post facto law was only obiter. Because that case was not concerned with a criminal law at all. But in John A. Cummings v. The State of Missouri (1867) 18 Law Ed 356, the accused was convicted for an act which was not an offence when it was committed but which subsequently became an offence because of the oath of office taken by the accused subsequently and because in the oath of office he was forbidden to do that act. The oath was only a qualification for the holding of the office and in that sense a procedural act. Nevertheless, this provision in the Missouri Constitution was held to be a violation of the guarantee given by the U.S. Constitution that no State shall pass an ex post facto law. Similarly, in Charles F. Kring v. State of Missouri (1883) 27 Law Ed 506, according to the law existing when the act constituting the offence was committed, the accused could be guilty of murder only in the second degree having pleaded guilty to the charge but by subsequent law an acquittal of the charge of murder in the first degree was converted into a conviction of the charge of murder in the first degree on the plea of guilty made by the accused. The holding of the court as summarised in the head-note No. 3 was that

the distinction between retrospective laws, which affect the remedy or the mode of procedure, and those which operate directly on the offence, held to be unsound where, in the latter case, they affect to his serious disadvantage any substantial right which the party charged with crime had under the law as it stood when the offence was committed.' It would appear, thereforee, that in the United States the whole complex of law which has to be taken into account in securing the conviction of an accused is comprised in the guarantee against the passing of an ex post facto law.

15. On the other hand, as pointed out by the Supreme Court in Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh v. The State of Vindhya Pradesh : 1954CriLJ1480 , 'one is struck by the marked difference in language used in the Indian and American Constitutions' in this respect. Under Article 20 (1), 'the prohibition is not confined to the passing or the validity of the law'. It would appear, with respect, that the passing or the validity of the law as such is not prohibited by Article 20 (1) strictly speaking. What is prohibited is the conviction or the sentence there under. As the Court observed, 'the fullest effect must, thereforee, be given to the actual words used in the article'. The important words of Article 20 (1) for our purpose are-- 'no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence'. The relevant charge against Nayyar was that he accepted bribes from Siraj-ud-Din and Rehman and, thereforee, committed an offence punishable under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The charge was thus for violation of Section 5 (1) (d) of the Act, the violation of which would be punishable under Section 5 (2) of the Act. Can it be said that any question of Nayyar being convicted of the violation of Section 5 (3) of the Act could ever arise? The possession of disproportionate assets as such was not prohibited. It was only a piece of evidence which could be taken into account to come to the conclusion that the accused had obtained for himself any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage by corrupt or illegal means or by otherwise abusing his position as public servant. Shri Garg urged that in construing the Constitutional guarantee, the Court must look to the substance of the matter and not to the form of it. We entirely agree with the general principle that a fundamental right should be construed with a view to give effect to its substance and not narrowly to cut down its ambit. According to Shri Garg, Section 5 (3) before its repeal on 18th December, 1964 was exactly the same as the new provision inserted in its place as Section 5 (1) (e) of the Act. We find it difficult to accept this argument.

16. Firstly, the old Section 5 (3) was a rule of evidence as distinguished from a rule of substantive law. The U. S, Supreme Court may have applied the guarantee against an ex post facto law to include a rule of procedure or evidence no less than a rule of substantive law therein. The protection under Article 20 (1) is, however, restricted to the violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act 'charged as an offence'. The charge against Nayyar was that he accepted bribes in violation of Section 5 (1) (d). There was no charge against him that he was in possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of his income. The reason was that no charge would be framed in terms of Section 5 (3) which was only a rule of evidence. Shri Garg said that Section 5 (3) was in reality, though not in form, a constituent element of the offence of criminal misconduct defined in Section 5 (1) and punishable under Section 5 (2). This submission could be right only if a person had to be charged with the presumption under Section 5 (3) for securing the conviction of the accused. Then only Section 5 (3) could be a part of the offence with which Nayyar was charged for securing his conviction. But when in framing the charge, Section 5 (3) was not invoked, conviction could be obtained either independently by the proof of specific instances of criminal misconduct defined in Section 5 (1) or by invoking Section 5 (3). It could not be said, thereforee, that Section 5 (3) was a constituent element of the substantive offence of criminal misconduct. Of course, whenever it was invoked to secure conviction, it could be regarded, in a broad and general sense, 'a necessary ingredient of an offence' a phrase actually used by the Supreme Court in C. S, D. Swami v. The State : 1960CriLJ131 , though not exactly with the meaning which Shri Garg would like to attach to it. But it cannot be said that Article 20 (1) protects a person against a conviction 'for violation of' Section 5 (3). It is inherent in the words 'violation of a law' used in Article 20 (1) that the law must be a substantive law. Criminal charge can be framed only for the violation of substantive law and not for the violation of a rule of evidence or procedure.

17. Secondly, if Section 5 (3) had been always implied as an element constituting the offence of criminal misconduct prior to 18th December, 1964, then the decision in Surajpal Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh : 1961CriLJ730 , would have been different. In that case, the charge had been framed under Section 5 (2) read with Section 5 (1) (c) of the Act. The Supreme Court held that he could have been convicted of that charge by invoking the rule of presumption under Section 5 (3) as he was found to be in possession of disproportionate assets. But this was not done and he was acquitted of that particular charge. But taking advantage of the presumption under Section 5 (3) the trial Court convicted the accused under Section 5 (2) on the sole ground that he was in possession of disproportionate assets. The appeal against this conviction was allowed by the Supreme Court who observed at pages 975, 976 and 977 of the report as follows:

Learned Counsel has submitted... that the scheme of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 is this: Sub-Section (1) defines the offence of criminal misconduct in the discharge of his duties by a public servant; the offence can be one or more of four categories mentioned in causes (a), (b), (c) and (d); Sub-Section (2) is the penal section which states the punishment for the offence of criminal misconduct; and Sub-Section (3) lays down a rule of presumption and states that no conviction for the offence shall be invalid by reason only that it is based solely on such presumption....

Therefore, learned Counsel has submitted that by calling in aid the rule of presumption laid down in Sub-Section (3) the appellant could not be found guilty of any other type of criminal misconduct referred to in Clauses (a), (b), or (d) of Sub-Section (1) in respect of which there was no charge against the appellant. We consider that the above argument of learned Counsel for the appellant is correct and must be accepted. This Court pointed out in C.S.D. Swamy v. The State : 1960CriLJ131 , that Sub-Section (3) of Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, does not create a new offence but only lays down a rule of evidence.... It appears to us that the learned Special Judge and the High Court proceeded wrongly on the footing as though Sub-Section (2) or Sub-Section (3) of Section 5 creates an offence.... The charge (under Section 5 (1) (c)) having failed, there was no other charge which could be founded on the rule of presumption laid down in Sub-Section (3).

This decision is an authority for the proposition that Section 5 (3) was only a rule of evidence and no conviction could be based prior to 18th December, 1964 on the mere fact that the accused was in possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of his means. Even in substance, thereforee, Section 5 (3) was not the same as the provision in Section 5 (1) (e) which took its place on 18th December, 1964.

18. Shri Garg then relied on C.R. Bansi v. State of Maharashtra : 1971CriLJ662 , in which it was held that the omission to state specific instances in a charge of habitually accepting bribes does not make a charge illegal. The Court observed that this decision was in no way contrary to the decision in : 1961CriLJ730 . The Court also observed that in R.S. Pandit v. State of Bihar (1963) Supp. 2 SCR 652 : (1964) 2 Cri. LJ 65, it was held that Section 5 (3) did not create a separate offence but laid down only a rule of evidence. In fact, in R.S. Pandit's case, the sanctioning authority had expressly referred to Section 5 (3) along with Section 5 (2) of the Act and given sanction under both those provisions. The argument was that the sanction was bad inasmuch as it treated Section 5 (3) as a provision creating an offence though it was only a rule of evidence. The contention was rejected at page 661 of the report with the observation that the phraseology used by the sanctioning authority in the sanction indicated the consciousness on the part of the sanctioning authority that Sub-Section (3) of Section 5 was not a separate offence but it was only a supporting provision to the substantive offence under Sub-Sections (1) and (2). It was observed that Sub-Section (3) did not create a separate offence. It only laid down a rule of evidence. This observation was repeated at page 666 of the report. The Supreme Court has, thereforee, concluded the question that Section 5 (3) was not identical with Section 5 (1) (e). In view of this, we need not point out further the other differences between the language of these two provisions.

19. Even if Section 5 (3) could, for some reason and even contrary to the Supreme Court authority, be regarded as a rule of substantive law and also if contrary to Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, it could be assumed that this rule was retrospectively obliterated from the statute book by Act No. 40 of 1964, Shri Garg would still not have succeeded in showing that Article 20 (1) was contravened by Act No. 16 of 1967 which revived Section 5 (3) for the limited purpose of applying it to cases pending from before 18th . December, 1964. For, as pointed out by the Supreme Court in Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh's case, referred to above : 1954CriLJ1480 of the report, the expression 'law in force' referred to in Article 20 (1) must be taken to relate not to a law deemed 'to be in force and thus brought into force but the law factually in operation at the time or what may be called the then existing law'. Act No. 16 of 1967 which retrospectively revived Section 5 (3) would have contravened Article 20 (1) if Section 5 (3) had not existed prior to 18th December, 1964. It would then have been only a deemed law but not a law which was actually in force as a fact. As the Court again stated.

the phrase 'law in force' as used in Article 20 must be understood in its natural sense as being the law in fact in existence and in operation at the time of the commission of the offence as distinct from the law 'deemed' to have become operative by virtue of the power of legislature to pass retrospective laws'. Again, at page 1203, the Court stated.

what is relevant for the application of Article 20 is not the result brought about by repeal and the retrospective operation thereof, but the factual state of law as it existed prior to the date when the repeal came into operation: The repeal itself posits the pre-existence of the law, and it is that law which is relevant for our present purpose.

20. We may, thereforee, sum up the result of our consideration of the alleged contravention of Article 20 (1) by Act No. 16 of 1967:

(1) The existence of a law in force on the date of the commission of the offence is a fact as was Section 5 (3) in the present case.

(2) A legal fiction that Section 5 (3) did not exist on the date of the commission of the offence could be introduced by its repeal as was done by Act No. 40 of 1964.

(3) Such legal fiction could be contrasted with the factual existence of the law only if Section 5 (3) had not actually existed as a fact.

(4) What is prohibited by Article 20 (1) is the creation of a legal fiction by retrospective legislation when the fact did not exist at all, i.e., if by such legal fiction, an act which was not criminal when it was committed is to become punishable as an offence.

(5) But when the law for the violation of which the accused was charged actually existed on the date of the commission of the act which amounted to an offence then, the later repeal of the law only meant that in the eye of law the repealed law had never existed. It did not mean that in fact it did not exist. In other words, the non-existence was a legal fiction and not a fact.

(6) Section 5 (3) being a rule of evidence was not 'law' within the meaning of Article 20 (1) inasmuch as no person could be convicted for the violation of a rule of evidence nor could he be charged for such violation within the meaning of Article 20 (1).

The repeal and revival of Section 5 (3) were, thereforee, both untouched by the operation of Article 20 (1).

21. As for Article 14, Shri Garg argued that in granting sanction for the prosecution of a person prior to 18th December, 1964 the sanctioning authority was not bound to consider whether such a person was alleged to be in possession of disproportionate assets. For, Section 5 (3) was only a rule of evidence and not a substantive offence. In obtaining sanction, allegations are made only regarding the commission of a substantive offence and the mind of the sanctioning authority is applied only to such allegations. On the contrary, for granting sanction for the prosecution of .an offence punishable under Section 5 (1) (e) after 18th December, 1964 the sanctioning authority must apply its mind to the question whether it is alleged that the accused is in possession of disproportionate assets. Shri Garg again argued that Section 5 (3) and Section 5 (1) (e) were identical and, thereforee, it was discriminatory that in one case the sanctioning authority did not have to apply its mind to the holding of disproportionate assets by the accused while in the other case it had to do so. He said that a person who was acquitted under Section 5 (2) after 18th December, 1964 but before 20th June, 1967 when the impugned Act No. 16 of 1967 was passed, could be prosecuted on the same facts under Sect/on 5 (1) (e) because the offence under Section 5 (1) (e) was different from the offence punishable under Section 5 (2) as it stood prior to 18th December, 1964. We are unable to see how Article 14 is attracted by this argument.

22. To show the contravention of Article 14, it is necessary that equally situated persons should be differently treated. This has not been shown. Section 5 (3) applies only to the commission of an offence punishable under Section 5 (2) as it stood prior to 18th December, 1964. It does not apply to the commission of an act which is an offence punishable under Section 5 (1) (e) after 18th December, 1964. Section 5 (1) (e) reads as follows:

5. (1) A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct--

** ** **(e) if he or any person on his behalf is in possession or has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession, for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income.' Shri Garg argued that even a person who was in possession of disproportionate assets prior to 18th December, 1964 could be prosecuted under Section 5 (1) (e) after 18th December, 1964. In our view, however, it is necessary that such a person must be in possession of the disproportionate assets on or after 18th December, 1964 before he can be prosecuted under Section 5 (1) (e). The words 'has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession, for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income' must be construed consistently with Article 20 (1) of the Constitution. If such a person was in possession of such disproportionate assets only, say, up to 17th December, 1964 but not thereafter, it would appear that he cannot be prosecuted under Section 5 (1) (e) even though the possession up to 17th December, 1964 may coincide with the period of office of such a person. The reason is that the act of possession of disproportionate assets was not an offence punishable by itself prior to 18th December, 1964, Such a person cannot, thereforee, be convicted of an offence under Section 5 (1) (e) inasmuch as the possession of such assets prior to 18th December, 1964 did not violate the law in force till 18th December, 1964 within the meaning of Article 20 (1). The words 'at any time during the period of his office' in Section 5 (1) (e) would, thereforee, have to be read down to mean on and after 18th December, 1964 and not merely before that date, if the prosecution is to be under Section 5 (1) (e).

23. If, thereforee, a person has been acquitted of an offence under Section 5 (2), it would only mean that he did not commit the misconduct defined in Clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Section 5 (1). If he was acquitted even after the presumption under Section 5 (3) was invoked, it would mean that he did not possess disproportionate assets prior to 18th December, 1964. His prosecution for possession of disproportionate assets on or after 18th December, 1964 under Section 5 (1) (e) would not, thereforee, be barred either by Section 403 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or by Article 20 (1) of the Constitution or by the general principle of rest judicata or issue estoppel. For, the facts on which he was charged prior to 18th December, 1964 and the evidence on which he was acquitted were different. He would necessarily have to be charged on different facts and different evidence and for the commission of a different offence after 18th December. 1964 if the prosecution is to be under Section 5 (1) (e).

24. To sum up, thereforee, --

(1) Section 5 (3) which operated on acts committed prior to 18th December, 1964 can apply only to an offence committed prior to 18th December, 1964.

(2) Section 5 (1) (e) which operates after 18th December, 1964 can apply only to an offence committed thereafter.

(3) The facts and the evidence to be proved to substantiate an offence under Section 5 (2) prior to 18th December, 1964 would be different from the facts and evidence necessary to substantiate an offence committed under Section 5 (1) (e) after 18th December, 1964, at any rate, in respect of the time of the commission of the act constituting the offence. There would thus necessarily have to be two different sets of facts and offences.

(4) No occasion would, thereforee, arise for the prosecuting authority to choose between Section 5 (2) as it existed prior to 18th December, 1964 and Section 5 (1) (e) as it existed after 18th December, 1964 in considering whether a person should be prosecuted or not. No choice is left to the prosecuting authority to apply either the one or the other provision to any person. The prosecuting authority is not, thereforee, in a position to practice any discrimination against any person.

(5) The substitution of Section 5 (1) (e) in place of Section 5 (3) is like the supersession of an old Act by a new Act. As the old Act operated only till the date of the supersession and cannot operate thereafter except in pending cases saved by Act No. 16 of 1967, it was open to the Legislature to make new provisions different from those in the old Act. No question of discrimination can, thereforee, arise at all.

25. In passing it may be noted that Shri Garg also said that the difference between pending cases and those which are to arise later made by Act No. 16 of 1967 was arbitrary and, thereforee, contrary to Article 14. He relied on the Supreme Court decision in Jalan Trading Co. (P.) Ltd. v. Mill Mazdoor Sabha. : (1966)IILLJ546SC . Section 33 of the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 was struck down on the ground of discrimination because it deprived those workmen of claim to bonus whose claims for bonus were pending on a certain date while it enabled the other workmen to claim bonus under the Act. Since the pendency of these claims was purely accidental, it could not be said that there was any reasonable classification between the two sets of workmen. This analogy is not applicable to Act No. 16 of 1967. On the contrary, the pendency of a criminal prosecution on 18th December, 1964 either in the trial Court or in appeal was a valid basis for a rational classification in the present case. For, the pending cases had to be governed by the law which existed till 18th December. 1964. On the other hand, cases instituted thereafter could be governed by the new law. The two kinds of cases operated in two different periods of time. They were not equally situated'. The question of discrimination between the two could not, thereforee, arise. As observed by the Supreme Court in Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh's case : 1954CriLJ1480 of the report.

there is no reason why pending proceedings cannot be treated by the legislature as a class by themselves having regard to the exigencies of the situation which such pendency itself calls for'. When the pendency itself has to be the basis for a valid classification, no objection can be taken to the classification on that ground.

26. Acting under Section 2 (3) of the Anti-Corruption Laws (Amendment) Act, 1967, thereforee, the appeal against the acquittal of G. P. Nayyar is allowed, his acquittal is set aside and the case is remanded to the Special Judge for trial which shall proceed from the stage at which it was immediately before the commencement of Act No. 40 of 1964, that is. 18th December, 1964.


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